Respecting Different Opinions

Today at work, Clara told me she is “against” people being gay. No, she doesn’t know I’m a lesbian. Work is probably the last place I’d ever come out, because you’re talking about putting your livelihood on the line…which I don’t think is worth it. I don’t have time–or money–to try to sue anybody, either.

Also, because work is the only place where I really interact with people, I get a kick out of a couple of things about being in the closet at work–1) how everyone assumes you’re straight, unless you are just obvious, and 2) the way people talk about gays and lesbians when they think they’re speaking to another straight person. I could never want to miss these two things.

In particular about #1, it’s not the assumption and its “privileges,” but the things I learn because of the assumption. What I love about #1 is, personally, I think there are too many signs that I’m not straight that people just don’t get. Lesson #1: Straight people do not have gaydar. Like, at all. Just because you’re straight and can recognize a feminine-acting man or a butch woman doesn’t mean you have gaydar. If you can’t figure out a female sports junkie who doesn’t wear makeup, never wears anything other than comfortable clothes, doesn’t wear jewelry, never does anything with her hair, doesn’t give men the time of day or talk about them romantically…just for starters…individually, these things don’t necessarily mean anything, but it should be enough to give an observant straight person (especially another woman) pause when all put together, I’d think. It doesn’t seem to, though.

About #2…I’ve found that people usually don’t, in my experience, come out and admit they have any issues with being gay or lesbian, regardless of whom they think you are. This is why I respect what Clara said to me today. Usually, people will bullschitt you in some way about gays and lesbians and their opinion. I can tell this is something other gays/lesbians haven’t learned, but I’m black. I know people are full of schitt when it comes to minority groups–all of them.

In the US, people love to do a black people vs gay people thing, just a way to make black people the bad guys because they’re sick of hearing about black people and racism. Finding ways to make black people incredibly intolerant is “in” right now. Usually, it’s white people making black people the bad guy when it comes to homosexuality, but sometimes you get some dumb black people joining in. Basically, according to these people, black people hate gay people. Black people are the only ones who hate gay people. Everyone else is so much more accepting, unless, perhaps, if they’re Republican or Christian or Southern (never mind that this is a good percentage of the population, much more so than black people make up, even if you exclude the black people who are also Republican, Christian and/or Southern. Incidentally, pointing the finger at any of these groups isn’t 100%).

I would say the majority of all [American] people fit into one of two camps: They are “against homosexuality,” or they are “okay with it” or “don’t care” at some point but say or do things at other points that indicate this is not entirely true. Personally, I’ve seen more “I don’t care, but then again, I do” stuff from people–black, white, whatever–than anything else. I know of so many black people who are like this–this is how my mother is. But maybe, just maybe, you’re more likely to get unapologetic honesty from blacks–and other racial minorities–than from white people.

I often find white LGBT allies and neutrals disingenuous in some sense, or exaggerated, or clueless, or don’t care/do care-ish. This is also how most white people are with race, and I do think the two are related–white people understand consequences of being brutally honest about gays/lesbians more than black people do, I’d say, because they’ve already seen or experienced white people suffering consequences of being brutally honest about blacks. We black people talk schitt about white people, and nothing happens. Talk schitt about Asians or Latinos…usually, not much happens, but sometimes it does (like, if the target is Jeremy Lin, NBA star). Talk schitt about gay people–surprise–schitt happens.

Bottom line–most people won’t just say what they really think about gays/lesbians or gay rights without trying to soften the blow somehow or without adding whatever statement that convinces them they’re not a bad person.

But Clara? Just flatout said she’s against women with women and men with men, and it’s not in the Bible and not what God wants.

Cookies for Clara. Seriously. I used to think that I couldn’t be friends with someone who thought like this…but…well…I am just not offended by her opinion. First of all, I view it as just that. I am not one of those people who thinks everyone has to agree with me about gay rights or else it means something really horrible about who they are or for my life. Her opinion does not make or break gay rights or any of my personal relationships [or lack thereof, on both counts]. She does some little bullschitt job for a major international company. Seriously, gay people, people who do little bullschitt jobs don’t mean schitt, unless they’re trying to cause you physical or financial harm.

Second, I don’t equate what she said to saying she hates gays/lesbians, and I think that’s the mistake most gays/lesbians make. Like I’ve written before at this blog, it’s about knowing how to read people. Even before our discussion about gays/lesbians came up, we talked about interacting with people. And she correctly pointed out several times that she talks to everyone. So, do I think she’d stop being friends with me if she knew I am a lesbian? No. Would she treat me differently? Yes, in the sense that it would end up part of our conversations and jokes/teasing, because that’s how she is. We talk candidly about all kinds of things most people wouldn’t, especially two people from different racial backgrounds. And she’s one of those rare women who doesn’t get offended by anything you say, and I always like to say I’m the same way.

So, no, I don’t have a problem with someone not bullschitting everybody, for a change, about her opinion on gays and lesbians. Of course, I had to give her a hard time about it, but she didn’t backtrack or try to clean it up–she stuck to what she said. I can’t stand people saying racist or homophobic schitt, then coming back with fake apologies and proclaiming they’re not racist/homophobic. We’re all racist, and we’re probably all homophobic to some degree, too. If you own your truth, I will respect it.

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